Guard Your Data & Operations with Cloud Disaster Recovery

Guard Your Data & Operations with Cloud Disaster Recovery

Natural disasters and cyber attacks can destroy IT access and business functionality in an instance, which is why most companies have backup and disaster recovery strategies in place. Cloud disaster recovery planning refers to the strategies businesses use to back up data, applications, and other resources to the cloud.

Cloud disaster recovery strategies protect sensitive data and ensure that the business can resume normal operations as quickly as possible by accessing and restoring data from backed-up versions to the cloud or on-premise environments. Many of these solutions are automated and highly scalable.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at cloud disaster recovery strategies and how they can be deployed in a business like yours.

Cloud Disaster Recovery

Definition of Cloud Disaster Recovery

Cloud disaster recovery refers to the strategies, tools, services, and technologies businesses use to create a copy of their data to the public or private cloud. When there is a natural disaster or other data loss event, data or applications can be restored so that operations can continue as normal.

The main difference between cloud and traditional disaster recovery is the location of the backup data. In traditional disaster recovery, the backup data is stored in a physical location, such as a remote data center or tape library. In cloud disaster recovery, the backup data is stored in the cloud.

Cloud disaster recovery is easier to scale, with a lower recovery point objective and lower recovery time objective. Local DR rarely protected backups against natural disasters, including fires, floods, and other physical disasters.

Why Is Cloud Disaster Recovery Important?

Cloud disaster recovery plays an important role in business continuity following a data loss event. Natural disasters, ransomware, and malware attacks, as well as simple human error, can lead to data losses that disrupt operations. With a cloud disaster recovery plan in place, data is backed up regularly, enabling rapid recovery, reducing productivity losses and minimizing the fallout from the event.

Cloud Disaster Recovery vs. Traditional Disaster Recovery

Cloud disaster recovery has several benefits over traditional disaster recovery, including reduced complexity, cost savings, flexibility, scalability, and automation.

  • Cost: Cloud DR is typically more cost effective than traditional DR, especially for small businesses. This is because you only pay for the resources you use, and you don’t have to worry about the upfront costs of hardware and software.
  • Flexibility and scalability: Cloud DR is more flexible and scalable than traditional DR. You can easily add or remove resources as needed without having to worry about hardware or software compatibility. This makes it easy to meet the changing needs of your business.
  • Geo-redundancy: Cloud DR offers better geo-redundancy than traditional DR. This is because cloud providers have a global network of data centers, which means that your data is always protected, even in the event of a disaster.
  • Recovery time: Cloud DR can offer faster recovery times than traditional DR. This is because the data and applications are stored in the cloud, which is typically more accessible than a physical location.

Traditional DR involves storing data and applications in a remote location, such as a colocation facility or a second data center.

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Recovery time

The advantages of traditional DR include:

  • Security: You have more control over the security of your data with traditional DR. This is because you are responsible for the physical security of the remote location.
  • Control: You have more control over the traditional DR solution than you do with a cloud DR solution. This is because you are responsible for the day-to-day operations of the solution.
  • Compliance: Traditional DR may be a better option for businesses that are subject to strict compliance regulations. This is because you have more control over the security of your data.

The disadvantages of traditional DR include:

  • Cost: Traditional DR is typically more expensive than cloud DR. This is because you have to pay for the hardware, software, and maintenance of the remote location.
  • Complexity: Traditional DR can be more complex to set up and maintain than cloud DR. This is because you have to manage the physical security of the remote location.
  • Scalability: Traditional DR is less scalable than cloud DR. This is because you have to add or remove hardware and software in the remote location.

Ultimately, the nature of your business, the regulatory environment you operate in, and your budget will determine which solution is best for you and your organization.

The Pros and Cons of Cloud Disaster Recovery

Like traditional disaster recovery, cloud DR has both pros and cons.

Here are a few reasons why you might choose to adopt a cloud disaster recovery strategy for your business:

  • Good reliability: Cloud providers have a global network of data centers, which means that your data is always protected, even in the event of a disaster. Cloud providers also use a variety of techniques to ensure the reliability of their services, such as load balancing and redundancy.
  • Flexible payments: Cloud disaster recovery services offer a pay-as-you-go pricing model, which means that you only pay for the resources you use. This can be a significant cost savings compared to traditional DR solutions, which typically require you to make a large upfront investment in hardware and software.
  • Scalability: Cloud DR services are highly flexible and scalable. You can easily add or remove resources as needed without having to worry about hardware or software compatibility. This makes it easy to meet the changing needs of your business.
  • Speed and convenience: Cloud DR services make it easy to test your disaster recovery plan. You can easily create copies of your data and applications in the cloud and then test your ability to restore them. This helps to ensure that you are prepared for a disaster.
  • Location: Cloud DR services are not bound to a specific physical location. You can have your backup data stored in any cloud region, which can provide added protection against disasters that affect a specific geographic area.

While the benefits are numerous, there are a few cons to consider as well:

  • Complexity: Setting up and maintaining cloud disaster recovery may require specialized expertise as cloud DR solutions involve a variety of different components, such as storage, networking, and computing resources.
  • Accessibility: Cloud DR needs consistent fast, reliable internet access, which might be difficult in places with poor internet connectivity. This is because the data and applications that are backed up in the cloud need to be accessible in the event of a disaster.
  • Cost: Data transfer can be expensive. This is because the cost of data transfer is typically based on the amount of data that is transferred and the distance that it is transferred.
  • Security and privacy concerns: Cloud providers have access to customer data. This is a valid concern, as there have been cases of cloud providers experiencing data breaches. However, cloud providers typically have strong security measures in place to protect customer data.
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How to Choose a Cloud Disaster Recovery Provider

Choosing a disaster recovery solution can be challenging. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of providers out there, and not every solution will suit your unique disaster recovery strategy. Here are questions to ask when choosing a cloud disaster recovery provider for the first time:

1. How far is the cloud provider from our location?

Location, location, location! It’s not just a real estate consideration. If a DR data center is too close to your location, you may both become victims of the same natural disaster event. If it’s too far away, you could potentially increase latency and congestion, making it harder to recover data after an event. Your cloud disaster recovery data should be easily and readily accessible.

2. How reliable is the solution?

Clouds can experience downtime, but regular outages can be disastrous. Read reviews carefully and ask for an uptime guarantee as part of a service-level agreement to ensure your data is recoverable.

3. Can the solution grow when you do? 

Cloud backups are scalable by nature, but does scalability come at a price? Make sure that your cloud solution can scale to accommodate extra requirements without a hefty price tag or compromising on performance.

4. Is the solution secure and compliant?

Not all cloud disaster recovery solutions offer encryption, VPNs, or authentication, and not all will meet the compliance standards you may need to meet (SOC 2/3, ISO 27001, PCI). Make sure that you understand the regulatory requirements your business has to meet and whether or not your provider is certified to meet those standards.

Once you know the answers, you’ll be in a better position to make a decision.

Cold, Hot, or Warm Cloud Disaster Recovery Strategies

Cloud disaster recovery usually follows one of three different approaches; each approach has an impact on recoverability.

Cold Disaster Recovery

Cold disaster recovery (DR) is the simplest and least expensive type of DR. It involves storing data or virtual machine (VM) images in a remote location. The data or images are not usable until they are restored to the primary site. This can take a long time, which means that cold DR can result in significant downtime in the event of a disaster.

Warm Disaster Recovery

Warm DR is a more expensive and complex type of DR than cold DR. It involves storing duplicate data and applications in a remote location. The duplicate data and applications are kept up to date with the data and applications on the primary site. This means that warm DR can be restored more quickly than cold DR, resulting in less downtime. However, warm DR still requires some manual intervention to restore the data.

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Hot Disaster Recovery

Hot DR is the most complex type of DR. It involves mirroring the data and applications in the primary site to a remote location. This means that the data and applications are always up to date and can be switched over to the remote location immediately in the event of a disaster. Hot DR results in no downtime, but it is also the most expensive and complex type of DR to implement.

You can mix the different approaches, e.g., applying a hot approach to your most critical data sets and a colder approach to lower-priority data, but it’s best to find a cloud disaster recovery provider that can support your unique needs, desired approach, and budget from the start.

Steps to Creating Your Cloud Disaster Recovery Plan

Disaster recovery planning doesn’t have to follow a specific template, but here are a few critical steps you have to adhere to if you want to create a comprehensive DR plan:

 1. Identify your critical assets. The first step is to identify the business-critical assets that need to be protected in the event of a disaster. This could include data, applications, systems, and infrastructure.

2. Assess your risks. Once you have identified your critical assets, you need to assess the risks that they face. This includes natural disasters, man-made disasters, and cyberattacks.

3. Define your recovery objectives. You need to define your recovery objectives for each of your critical assets. This includes the recovery point objective, which is the maximum amount of data that you can reasonably stand to lose, and the recovery time objective, which is the maximum amount of time that you can be without your critical assets.

4. Choose a cloud DR solution. There are a number of different cloud DR solutions available. You need to choose a solution that meets your specific needs and budget.

5. Implement your DR plan. Once you have chosen a cloud DR solution, you need to implement your DR plan. This includes testing your plan regularly to make sure that it works.

6. Maintain your DR plan. Your DR plan is not a static document. You need to maintain your DR plan as your business changes and your risks evolve.

Don’t forget to test your cloud DR solution regularly to ensure it’s working as it should and keep up to date with the latest security patches. Even the cloud can fail – make sure that you have a backup solution.

Conclusion

Cloud disaster recovery is the key to business continuity and security in a world that faces growing threats from malicious actors and climate change-driven disasters. Make sure that your precious data is backed up and securely stored in the cloud by choosing the right provider and following best practice recommendations.